Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jon Shields

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The fertility rate in the United States is declining because the majority of women are reaching the end of their childbearing years with fewer kids than desired. While this fact is lamentable, the forces that have depressed fertility are not. As women increased their labor force participation, enjoyed greater educational opportunities, and gained access to birth control, their fertility rates dropped. Admittedly, some of the causes of decreased fertility may not be unalloyed goods, such as the breakdown of institutions like religion and marriage. Yet even these changes advanced social goods, especially freedom and equality. Thus, although many women are not reaching their desired family size, that problem is a side effect of a freer and more equal nation. As long as we live in a world of expanded choice and opportunity, women and men will struggle to achieve all their aspirations, including their ideal family size.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.